New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday alleged Reliance Industries Ltd paid legal consultancy retainers to Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Congress’ Manish Tewari before the two became ministers.
“Ravi Shankar Prasad is in receipt of retainership from FineTech Corporation Pvt Ltd, a Reliance group company from April 2013 to March 2014," AAP leader and advocate Prashant Bhushan said at a press conference. Bhushan also alleged that Manish Tewari, who was a minister in the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, had a retainership contract with Reliance Industries. Bhushan and AAP leader Yogendra Yadav released what they said were receipt of payments made to Prasad and Tewari and demanded the sacking of the telecom minister.
Tewari said he had surrendered his bar licence the day he was made a Union minister in 2012 and had written to RIL terminating the relationship. Prasad termed the allegations as “completely false and misleading" and said he had terminated all his professional relationships with Finetech in March, two months before he became a minister.
RIL, in a response to a Financial Times report on the retainer issue, said that India’s rules allow hiring parliamentarians for legal advice and stressed that any “engagement discontinues" if an MP becomes a minister.
“RIL [Reliance] has large and varied demands for legal assistance," the company said in its repsonse.
“Our selection of lawyers is based on our needs and their expertise and that has nothing to do with their being in politics or being an MP."